Have you or your family experienced a major life event recently? Has someone gotten married? Had a baby? Has someone passed away? When big things happen in life, it can often change your plans for the future. This means it is usually time when you need to go and update your estate plan. You see, much of estate planning is looking at our current life circumstances, and then looking at who and what we want to protect and how we want to protect our future goals for everyone. If you have recently remarried, it is likely that you are going to want to change some major points of your estate plan.
Should I Update My Estate Plan After Remarrying?
A spouse usually plays a prominent part in estate plans. Spouses are often substantial beneficiaries of an estate. Spouses are often named to positions of authority, such as in a power of attorney or a health care surrogate. If you have a new spouse because of remarriage, you are likely going to want to make some significant alterations to your estate plan. Here are some things you should pay particular attention to.
Check your beneficiary listings in your estate planning documents. This can mean looking at your will as well as beneficiary listings on 401ks, other retirements accounts, life insurance policies, payable on death (POD) accounts, and transfer on death (TOD) accounts. Your former spouse may very well still be listed on these documents as a beneficiary. If you want to make the switch to your current spouse, or someone else such as your children, do so right away.
Additionally, you will likely want to reevaluate designations made on any powers of attorney you may have put in place as well as your surrogate designation under a health care surrogate. Powers of attorney grant specified powers to a named agent, such as the ability to conduct legal and financial business on behalf of the principal under certain circumstances. Should the power of attorney be durable, the power will survive even in the event of incapacitation of the principal. The powers granted under a power of attorney can be quite broad. You will definitely want to make sure you have the right party listed as your agent. The same is true of your surrogate designation under your health care surrogate which grants your surrogate the authority to make health care decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated.
You may also have listed your former spouse as the personal representative of your estate. Your personal representative has the critical task in administering your estate after you pass away. Make sure to update this if you need to after a remarriage.
Last of all, but not least, it can be important to consider the unique dynamics that may be at play after a remarriage. For instance, do you have children from a previous marriage? If so, you may want to take steps to help protect the inheritance rights of these children. Many do so through the use of trusts.
Estate Planning Attorneys
The OC Wills & Trusts attorneys are here to help ensure that your estate plan continues to accurately and effectively reflect your most current goals for the future. Contact us today.